A gunman killed
50 people and injured 53 in a crowded gay nightclub in the tourist hub
of Orlando, Florida, early on Sunday before being shot dead by police,
authorities said, in what appeared the deadliest mass shooting in
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer confirmed the death toll in a statement and called for a state of emergency.
“We are dealing with something we never imagined. Since the last
update, we have gotten better access to the building, cleared the
building. It is with great sadness I share that we have 50 casualties,
in addition to the shooter. Because of the scale I have called Governor
Scott to request a state of emergency and we are issuing a state of
emergency in the City. This allows us to bring additional resources to
support our efforts. Our focus in the coming hours will be identifying
the victims and notifying the families. We are setting up a hotline for
concerned family members – 407.246.4357. The identification process
may take some time. We ask for your patience as we want to be accurate.
I continue to be proud of how our community has responded.” Dyer said.
The shooter was identified as Omar S. Mateen, a man that a senior FBI
official said might have had leanings towards Islamic State militants.
Officials described the attack as a “terrorism incident” though
cautioned that the suspected Islamist connection required further
police officer working as a security guard inside the Pulse nightclub,
which has operated in downtown Orlando since 2004, exchanged fire with
the suspect at about 2 a.m. (0600 GMT), police officials said.
hostage situation quickly developed, and three hours later a squad of
officers stormed the club and shot dead the gunman. It was unclear when
the gunman shot the victims.
consider this an act of terrorism? Absolutely, we are investigating
this from all parties’ perspective as an act of terrorism,” said Danny
Banks, special agent in charge of the Florida Department of Law
Enforcement. “Whether that is domestic terrorist activity or an
international one, that is something we will certainly get to the bottom
When asked if the
FBI suspected the gunman might have had inclinations toward militant
Islam, including a possible sympathy for Islamic State, Ronald Hopper,
an assistant FBI agent in charge, told reporters: “We do have
suggestions that the individual may have leanings toward that particular
ideology. But right now we can’t say definitively.”
The FBI said it was still trying to pin down whether the mass shooting was a hate crime against gays or a terrorist act.
Barack Obama ordered the federal government to provide any assistance
needed to Florida police investigating the shooting, the White House
said in a statement.
was carrying an assault rifle and a handgun, Orange County Sheriff Jerry
Demings said. He was also carrying an unidentified “device”, Orlando
Police Chief John Mina said earlier.
The suspect’s father tells NBC NEWS his son was not motivated by religion but was “angry” when he saw two men kissing in Miami.
“We were in Downtown Miami, Bayside, people were playing music. And he
saw two men kissing each other in front of his wife and kid and he got
very angry,” Mir Saddique, told NBC News on Sunday. “They were kissing
each other and touching each other and he said, ‘Look at that. In front
of my son they are doing that.’ And then we were in the men’s bathroom
and men were kissing each other.”
Source: City of Orlando-Your Government/Reuters/NBC